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“I’ve had different jobs with U2 since the first three albums. I remember on The Joshua Tree, they were 18 months into making that record when Paul McGuinness, their manager, finally said to them, ’When you recorded with Steve, you’d do a record in six weeks. Let’s get him in here and finish this thing.’
“My role with U2 gradually became being something akin to the closing pitcher - the guy who comes in at the end and helps win the ball game. I think a lot that has to do with the fact that when the band sees me, it reminds them of their early work and they know they have to get down to in. On Joshua Tree, Achtung Baby, All That You Can’t Leave Behind - they would always call me to wrap things up, and sometimes to work on the hits.
“During much of this time they were working with Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois, but on Atomic Bomb they started the sessions with another producer. Eighteen months into it, they decided they had to fire the producer and start all over. The band was feeling pretty down about things.
“I came in and listened to what they had done. They played me a song called Native Son. I liked it, but I said it wasn’t right, it hadn’t been recorded correctly. So I set the band up in a whole different way, they started playing, and halfway into it Bono said, ’I can’t sing this song. The words aren’t good enough.’ And I said, ’Well, the music’s pretty good.’ So he went off, wrote different lyrics, and the song became Vertigo. At that point, after we had Vertigo, we took our feet off the brakes and the album progressed at a nice pace.
“Musically, the band still struggles, but they’re overachievers - if they can’t do something, they’ll hammer away at it until they can. They want to do their best work, even today. Complacency never took root in U2. They want to make great albums, and they want to have hits. More than anything, they want their music to mean something to people. I can’t say enough good things about them.”